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Pakistan still struggling to eradicate polio

October 19, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
Amna Ehtesham Khaishgi
Fri, 2017-10-20 03:00
ID: 
1508440255223957100

KARACHI: In a recent report, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for polio expressed concerns about the quality, reliability, capacity and authenticity of surveillance data from the polio program in Pakistan.
The country has been urged to revisit the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to identify gaps. A striking observation is the number of children still missed during immunization rounds.
“The Polio Program’s performance in the last three seasons (covering 15 immunization rounds) is revealing,” the report said.
“In Pakistan, even after attempts to go back to communities to find the children who had been missed, the approximate numbers unvaccinated were: 767,000 (low season 2016); 760,000 (high season 2016); 858,000 (low season 2017).”
Karachi
Health Department officials say the metropolitan city of Karachi is in the most vulnerable situation when it comes to polio proliferation.
Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho, secretary of the Health Department in Sindh province, said the department is aware of the emergency.
“Every month, 5,000 people come to Karachi from different parts of the country and from Afghanistan. They’re a guest population. We don’t know whether their children are properly immunized or not,” he told Arab News.
“In Karachi alone, there are 50,000 missing children, which means we have no trace of their immunization.”
Pechuho said no one should be allowed to enter the city unless they are immunized. “People have to take responsibility for their children. Parents should be penalized for refusing immunization. Their ID cards should be blocked.”
An official who has been working with the polio team in Pakistan since 1999, and who supervises a team of 80 workers in Karachi, told Arab News on condition of anonymity: “We haven’t been able to track children who are carrying the polio virus. It’s a moving population from the tribal belt of Pakistan that comes to Karachi during winters and goes back during summers.”
Ground support
“Workers fighting the virus have no support on the ground,” the official said. “They’re not respected in society. People don’t let them vaccinate. They face death threats and are paid a pittance, without food and transport.”
He added: “I see well-paid officers who sit in air-conditioned rooms, but those who are fighting on the ground have nothing. We’re warriors with empty hands.”
He continued: “If we make polio vaccination certificates compulsory for all education admissions, and even for passports and national ID cards, people will start taking the campaign seriously. The government has to make stringent laws.”
Lack of awareness
Health worker Sajida Kazi said the major challenge in eradicating polio in Pakistan is lack of awareness.
Those who refuse vaccination for their children “believe it’s a conspiracy hatched by our enemies to destroy us. They also make it a religious issue, that the medicine has ingredients that are un-Islamic,” Kazi told Arab News. “We need support from our religious scholars and national heroes to create awareness.”
But Christopher Maher, manager of polio eradication and emergency support at the World Health Organization (WHO), said the IMB report shows a decline in the estimated number of missed children.
“It’s worth noting that the number of children still missed in each round (of vaccination) comes to less than 3 percent of the estimated target population of children under five years of age for the country,” he said.
Global initiative
The GPEI, a public-private partnership, was launched in 1988, and has invested more than $14 billion via the WHO and UNICEF to support polio eradication activities in more than 70 countries.
In 2011, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced a partnership that made a combined donation of $100 million to buy and deliver vaccines to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In 2013, the UAE hosted the inaugural Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, where Sheikh Mohammed committed another $120 million between 2013 and 2018 to fight the disease.

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related_nodes: 
Pakistan premier vows end of polio in 6 months
Pakistan launches special anti-polio drive in Islamabad

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Dozens dead as Taliban attacks nearly wipe out Afghan Army camp

October 19, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
Syed Salahuddin
Fri, 2017-10-20 03:00
ID: 
1508440255203956800

KABUL: Taliban militants have killed at least 58 security personnel in various attacks in Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.
The surge in Taliban attacks raises concerns about growing instability in the country. The deadliest attack occurred in the Maiwand district of southern Kandahar province, where militants stormed an army base after a suicide attacker slammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the compound, officials said.
Taliban spokesperson Qari Mohammad Yousuf said all the 60 security personnel in the compound were killed in the attack.
But the Defense Ministry’s chief spokesperson Dawlat Waziri told Arab News that of the 60 soldiers present at the base, 43 were killed, nine were wounded, six were missing and two survived. He said 10 militants were also killed. Yousuf did not confirm the death toll on the Taliban’s side.
The number of Taliban attacks against security forces has risen following an increase in US airstrikes since August, when President Donald Trump, as part of a new strategy, pushed for more attacks against the militants.
In two separate attacks, the Taliban killed 12 policemen in 24 hours. This came a day after more than 70 people — most of them security personnel — were killed in a string of Taliban attacks, making this week the bloodiest since April, when militants killed around 140 army personnel in an attack on a military base in the country’s north.
Political analyst Bashir Bezhen cited three reasons for the rise in Taliban attacks: Encouragement from Pakistan in response to the growing proximity between Washington, Kabul and New Delhi; civilian casualties caused by US airstrikes; and security forces’ “incompetent leadership.”
The assault nearly wiped out the Kandahar army camp, said Afghan officials were quoted as saying by AP.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban since US and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.
The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.
Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both policemen and civilians. Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, called Tuesday’s onslaught the “biggest terrorist attack this year.”
Over the past two years and after the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops, the Taliban have stepped up attacks and spread from their southern heartland across the country. Attacks in the north have also increased.

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Bitcoin technicals: Bitcoin back above 100 hour MA

October 19, 2017 Greg Michalowski 0

200 hour MA stalled the fall yesterday.
In the bitcoin technical report yesterday, the price fall fell below the 200 hour moving average, but quickly recovered back above the level.  In the post yesterday, I wrote:
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Meet the bears predicting stock market doom

The bulls may be in charge of the stock market, but these market skeptics see trouble brewing just beneath the all-time highs. Some even see similarities with Black Monday of 30 years ago.
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Erdogan questions US partnership over visa row

October 19, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday questioned the sincerity of the US strategic partnership with Turkey following a recent visa row. The row was sparked on 8 October, when the US Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals, following the arrest of a local employee at the US Consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara. “Who said this? The ambassador in Ankara. Who is this ambassador? If he [the ambassador] can just say ‘we suspended the visas’ in a paragraph on behalf of the great US, then I will have to reconsider the strategic partnership,” he said, at the closing session of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) World Forum in […]

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